Ofsted annual report 2015: North-south divide extends to pupils with special educational needs

The “divided nation” between schools in the north and south outlined by Sir Michael Wilshaw this morning extends to the outcomes of pupils with special educational needs, Ofsted’s annual report shows.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael has launched the inspectorate’s fourth annual review which shows that 13 of 16 local authorities with low performance on a range of indicators are in the north and Midlands. A full list can be found here.

The report also reveals this trend extends to outcomes for pupils with special educational needs.

The annual report states: “The gap in the educational attainment of pupils with special educational needs in the North and Midlands compared with the rest of the country is wider.

“In 2014, seven per cent of pupils with statements achieved the GCSE benchmark compared with nine per cent in the rest of the country. Attainment for pupils who have special educational needs, both with statements and without, is dramatically higher in London: at Key Stage 4, there is an 11 percentage point difference for pupils without statements achieving the GCSE benchmark compared with attainment in the East Midlands.

“Identification in London is comparable to other regions. Excluding London from the comparison, attainment for pupils with statements is lower in the North and Midlands at Key Stage 4.”

Last year the Ofsted annual report failed to mention outcomes for children with special needs, drawing much criticism from campaigners. In a Schools Week interview earlier this year Sir Michael said that a section would be included this time around.

The report also identifies differing destinations for pupils supported by School Action or School Action Plus. Ofsted found that pupils with either of those statements are “more than twice as likely not to sustain” education or employment destination after GCSEs as their peers.

The report said: “This raises questions about schools’ expectations of these young people and their effectiveness in preparing them for when they leave.”

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  1. Janet Downs

    ‘What on earth have the political leaders been doing over the years in this major city?’, Sir Michael asks about Bradford. Until July 2011, education in Bradford had been run for ten years by Serco which featured on Channel 4’s programme ‘Britain’s Fat Cats’in 2011. Serco missed targets and the council had to reduce them.
    Ofsted inspected Bradford’s School Improvement Service in June this year. Inspectors said improvement wasn’t happening quickly enough but there was cause for optimism. They identified a ‘sense of urgency’ among all providers and all politicians across the political spectrum. School leaders said changes in Bradford were like a breath of fresh air.
    But there’s no recognition of this from Sir Michael. He’s not allowing any time for these changes to come to fruition but wants a commission of enquiry to be set up. Blundering in with big boots is likely to crush the sense of optimism.

  2. Janet Downs

    ‘In Knowsley, the worst-performing local authority post-11, half of secondaries are academies and half are local authority schools. Not one of them is good.’
    There are just six academies in Knowsley: two are Inadequate, three Require Improvement and one has not been inspected since becoming a sponsored academy (predecessor school: Inadequate).
    If the three RI schools are eventually judged Good and the uninspected academy judged good, then that would reduce the proportion of less-than-good schools to one-third.
    Such is the effect of small sample size. If Knowsley’s six secondary schools were lumped in with Lancashire’s 80+, it would make little difference to Lancashire’s overall proportion.